2 out of 4 stars
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My God! My Country, My Son by Peter Ford is a historical fiction novel that takes place in the 1950s. It follows the story of Sergeant Wanton and his son Will, both black men living in the United States. Wanton is a highly decorated leader in the US Army, someone who appreciates the opportunities his country has given him despite the fact that he was unjustly denied many of the same rights other citizens have.
On the other hand, Will is a young musician and a dreamer that belongs to a new generation. He is someone who chooses to put his life on the line to stand for an end to racism in his country, even though his father forbids him from joining the protests. The conflicts between the two generate moments of tension in their home, and an unexpected call to arms will put in check their convictions along with the welfare of the family.
The characterization work of the protagonists is remarkable. While Will and Wanton seem polar opposites at first, the reader will begin to notice their similarities beyond their ideologies as the story progresses. The secondary characters, although less important, do not fall behind in this matter and contribute to the central conflict with the protagonists. Additionally, the author does a great job of exposing the social conditions of black people during the 50's, helping the reader to immerse himself in the struggle of a marginalized social class.
The author's writing work is quite good, although he could have delved further into the introspection of some characters, with the exception of Will. At the same time, the jumps of the narrative POVs between the protagonists become inconstant and unbalanced at times. Some of them receive brief moments of focus in the middle of long portions of narrative segments that belong to other characters. Additionally, a few paragraphs devoted to exposing their past feel disconnected from the main structure, also contributing to aggravate the previous problem.
Unfortunately, any effort by the author to build a good story is undermined by the disastrous editing work. Although there are no typos or grammatical errors, the enormous number of problems surrounding the formatting process makes it impossible for the reader to remain focused on the narrative flow. From paragraphs erroneously intermingled or separated to badly placed page numbers and headers, the digital version of this book becomes almost impossible to digest. Even worse, the prologue seems to lack editing at all, mixing the present and past tenses all over the place (this also happens in the paperback version as far as I could see).
I'll be honest. If not for the story and the well-developed characters, I would not hesitate a second to give this book 1 star. While there is the possibility that some editing problems are exclusive to the digital delivery of this text, it is my job as a reviewer to evaluate what is given to me, which left a lot to be desired. I hope that the author considers making a second edition in the future, but for the time being, I think the most appropriate thing for me is to give this book 2 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to readers who want to know more about what life was like for black people during the last years of the Jim Crow Laws in the US.
My God My Country My Son
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